Divorce is ugly. Whether you are the one that wants it or not; it’s not all kittens and rainbows. There is anger, hurt, loneliness, sadness, overeating, over drinking, lack of eating; if you’re lucky you take to the latter. May as well look good while you are suffering, right? This isn’t as fun as it sounds. Add kids to the mix and you have the makings of a perfectly orchestrated recipe that can land you in a psych ward.
The story of the actual separation doesn’t need to be told. Reliving it brings up horrible feelings of guilt and anguish as it would for anybody. Where I will start is with a mom and a dad who wholeheartedly wanted their daughter not to be ruined by the life that was being decided for her. That’s the first adult step for anyone in a divorce that involves kids; deciding to do right by your child.
Our story is ongoing — sometimes painful, sometimes funny– and most of the time, a triumph! We rock this co-parenting shit 99% of the time. The other 1% calls for a LOT of self reflection and restraint.
So let me kick off this series with something super simple. In divorce (and other situations) when it comes to your kid, the best superhero power you have is your gut. Always trust your gut. Before our separation was official, we went seeking the advice of a professional. The soon-to-be Ex and I walked into a scheduled meeting with a child psychologist to get a professional opinion. We wanted to know: What is the best way to split time with your child consistently; What are signs to look for that we are ruining our child’s life; How do we handle birthdays and holidays in the healthiest manner for her? This woman proceeded to tell us that celebrating our child’s birthday together (among other events) would be detrimental to her mental health and cause confusion, along with false hope that we are getting back together.
We left and made our first unified decision as a separated couple; we felt that was bullshit. We would be the Demi and Bruce of our community. People would tell stories of our awesomeness raising a child seperated and our child would thrive with two parents who work to have a mutual respect for one another. A lofty goal, but a solid one. Our guts told us that we could behave in a manner that would make birthdays, sitting near or next to each other at church functions, recitals, school meetings, soccer games and whatever else popped up a fantastic memory for our child.
Ten years later and we are still rocking a family function. We lovingly refer to our child’s people as her “entourage” and everyone knows who we are when we are in attendance. With the addition of some amazing people in our child’s life, it is a huge, glorious group that always provides the largest cheering section. Detrimental my ass.
So, are you convinced? Have we proven that we are pretty freakin’ cool and mature? Just wait for the next blog when I explain how I lost my shit when my ex’s new wife took my daughter to get a haircut!
– The First Mom (an ongoing series)
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